Bruins’ offense is top-heavy, and that’s a concern

Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk is 0-1—1 through six games.
Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk is 0-1—1 through six games.matthew j. lee/Globe Staff

A few thoughts and shots high off the glass in the midst of the Bruins enjoying a day off Tuesday following their 4-2 Columbus Day Pasta Feast devouring of the Ducks at the Garden.

■   Bruce Cassidy can’t really complain. His Bruins stood 5-1-0, tied for second in the league’s overall standings, at the end of business on Monday. But there was clearly concern in the coach’s voice following the win over Anaheim that featured David Pastrnak’s career-high four-goal bounty.

The word of caution easily detectable from the coach: While his big line is hot, the rest of his forwards aren’t doing squat.


A half-dozen games into the season, the Bruins have scored 16 times. Other than Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pastrnak, who have dented the net for 11 goals, the Bruins have all of three tallies from their 11 other forwards. If you lost track, that’s one strike apiece from Danton Heinen, Brett Ritchie, and Joakim Nordstrom.

Secondary scoring primarily has gone the way of the wooden stick, leather helmet, and paper ticket.

“We’ve needed it,” Cassidy said in reference to Pastrnak’s outsized production. “We’re not getting balanced scoring yet.”

Scoring from deeper down the roster wasn’t there at the critical hour in June, and that was a main factor in not being able to squeeze out that one more Game 7 victory that would have clinched the Stanley Cup.

“It’s more the other guys,” said Cassidy. “You know, what can we do to help them get going? What can they do themselves to help themselves?

■   Adding to the challenge Monday was the loss again of No. 2 center David Krejci, who logged a total of 4:43 in ice time after suffering an upper-body injury in the first period. Based on what Cassidy told NESN postgame, the 33-year-old Krejci likely went hors de combat because of a cross-check to his right arm by the Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf.


If Krejci can’t go Thursday night with the Lightning in town, the likely candidate to fill his spot will be Par Lindholm, one of the offseason’s budget-priced free agent acquisitions. Then it would be up to Cassidy to decide whether to slot him directly into Krejci’s spot, between Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman, or move Charlie Coyle up the ladder and place Lindholm between Heinen and Ritchie.

Cassidy did not sound of the mind to call up a kid from AHL Providence.

“We’d probably look at Lindholm first, he’s done a good job for us,” said Cassidy. “We’ll have to discuss that internally, see if there’s a better fit in Providence, but I think Lindy’s done his job here for us, so I think he should get that opportunity.”

None of the Providence centers has been particularly hot. Top prospects Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic have yet to score. Brendan Gaunce, a former Vancouver first-round draft pick, leads the pivots with a pair of goals.

■   David Backes was a healthy scratch for both home games over the weekend, leaving the $6 million-a-year veteran forward with a 0-0—0 line through three games.

Totally unexpected, no. It was trending this way in June when Backes was assigned to the press box badlands for the final three games of the Cup Final against his former team.

The issues, of course, are speed, speed, and . . . speed.


Cassidy wants to play at an up pace, a gear that challenges Backes and one he is unlikely to find at age 35. It’s clear he is not going to see regular duty, leaving Cassidy to spot him into the lineup in weeks that have three or four games, or to provide relief in back-to-back situations.

The return on investment (five years/$30 million) is only growing shorter. When the wins keep coming, no one pays much attention. But the inevitable rough patch that hits every team will put a brighter spotlight on Backes, his bucks, and his minuscule role.

One potential spot to try Backes again would be on the No. 2 power play, as a net-front guy. He still has the size, will, and hands for that task. But it’s not like baseball with the DH.

He still would have to be a positional player on either Line 3 or 4 and, right now, it doesn’t look like Cassidy wants to assign him those minutes.

■   Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, so unimpressive on Broadway that the Rangers cut him free at a buyout cost of $10.4 million, will be here with Tampa Bay after signing a one-year, $1.75 million free agent deal.

Thus far, the short investment is paying off. Shattenkirk, who departed Boston University after three years in 2010, carried a 3-1—4 line into Tuesday night’s matchup in Montreal. Paired with Braydon Coburn on the No. 3 defense unit, he has been their top goal scorer back there.


Once a first-round pick (Avalanche, 2007), Shattenkirk delivered an underwhelming 2-26—28 and career-worst minus-15 last season with the Rangers, who cut him, in part, to make room for ex-Jet Jacob Trouba.

■   Jaroslav Halak had a shutout going Monday until Rickard Rakell finally snapped one home for the Ducks late in the second period.

Had he kept a clean sheet, Halak would have delivered the Bruins’ second shutout in as many games, following Tuukka Rask’s 3-0 whitewashing of the Devils in Saturday’s home opener.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bruins have not had back-to-back shutouts posted by different tenders since a road trip in October 1997. Jim Carey blanked the Canucks on Oct. 17 and Byron Dafoe followed the next night by zeroing out the Flames.

■   The second period Monday had the Bruins running helter-skelter, setting up the Ducks twice for jailbreak three-on-ones.

The first, around the 1:11 mark, had Steven Kampfer hanging out to dry after an ill-executed pinch by Matt Grzelcyk. The next, around the 15:00 mark, had the Ducks rushing up ice against Charlie McAvoy after a Coyle attempt on the power play was blocked.

Halak came up big both times.

“An exceptionally poor second period,” noted Cassidy. “We sort of lost our urgency all over the ice.”

■   The Garden’s “legendary” $100 million facelift remains in progress, which means the Bruins sellout figure, previously 17,565, has been reduced temporarily to 17,165.

It will remain there until seating, much of it for the new Rafters club, is complete on Levels 8 and 9. The new figure, yet to be revealed, will be around the 18,000 mark.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.